James Tamou hopes his future can be resolved shortly after agreeing with coach Ivan Cleary that Penrith should use their salary cap space to keep their young guns ahead of him.
Tamou is all but resigned to leaving the Panthers at the end of 2020, and is believed to be close to signing with Wests Tigers.
The 31-year-old has largely stayed out of negotiations, leaving wife Brittney to lead chats with his agent after also attracting interest from St George Illawarra.
But with Penrith having 17 players off-contract in the next 14 months, the Panthers captain has no issue not being re-signed.
“It is still my preferred option (to stay). I haven’t signed anything (elsewhere) so I guess it is still an option,” Tamou said.
“But talking to Ivan, with the young ones coming through it is sort of hard, and I said I totally agree.
“It’s a great group and the cream of the crop coming through, and I said ‘don’t let me stand in the way. The team comes first’.”
Penrith have James Fisher-Harris as their next forward’s leader, averaging 162 metres per game this year and third only to David Klemmer and Payne Hass for all NRL props.
Spencer Leinu has also impressed this year off the bench, as has Moses Leota as part of the rise of their young guns’ run to the top of the ladder.
In an ideal world, Tamou would like to put pen to paper with his next club on a one or two-year deal before the finals in a bid to stop it becoming a lingering storyline.
“I am happy with where it is at the moment and fortunate we will get something done soon,” Tamou said.
“I just want to concentrate on the boys. It’s getting serious here. It’s a young group too who sort of don’t understand the seriousness of finals.”
All roads do appear to be leading to the Tigers.
Tamou is hoping to avoid moving house with four children, and already lives in Sydney’s west.
The former Kangaroos prop would be a massive boost for the club’s pack, with Josh Addo-Carr the joint-venture’s other priority in the No.1 jersey.
Tamou is yet to have a proper conversation with Tigers coach Michael Maguire, aside from a chance meeting when Tigers played Penrith last month.
“He just wanted to introduce himself and say hello. I said ‘you’ve got a good young crop of boys here’,” Tamou said.
“And we started talking about it and I said I would rather leave it to my manager and let my wife and I discuss it as we get on.
“He was respectful of that.”